Connecticut woman uses her public office’s records for private political gain?

Just when I think I’ve heard all the different ways the public records law can be used, along comes Susan Bysiewicz.

Susan is Connecticut’s secretary of the state. However, she wants to be the state attorney general and is currently running for that seat. When you’re running for political office you want to reach as many voters as you can.

So what did Susan do? She had her committee, Friends of Susan 2010, file a public records request to obtain “an electronic copy of the Secretary of the State’s current … database,” according to a column in the Hartford Courant newspaper.

That database “goes back to 1999, her first year in office, and contains the names of 36,000 citizens (and nearly 9,900 e-mail addresses) who have asked Bysiewicz’s office for information or help, or otherwise had contact with it,” the newspaper reports.

Susan’s election committee has sent thousands of unsolicited e-mails to people in the database, promoting her candidacy and seeking campaign contributions, according to The Hartford Courant.

“In effect … Bysiewicz, the candidate, requested and obtained the database from Bysiewicz, the state’s top official in charge of conducting elections and maintaining records of business registrations,” according to the column.

Now, the state’s current attorney general is investigating Susan. You can read more detail about this in Jon Lender’s column in the Hartford Courant.

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